COVID-19 cases begin to decline after surge | Local News … – Moultrie Observer

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Updated: January 17, 2023 @ 7:54 am
The COVID-19 vaccine remains a good way to protect vulnerable populations from the illness, but it is notably less effective against the most recent subvariant of the virus, doctors say.

The COVID-19 vaccine remains a good way to protect vulnerable populations from the illness, but it is notably less effective against the most recent subvariant of the virus, doctors say.
MOULTRIE, Ga. — Moultrie residents should remain cautious and practice washing their hands and other illness-preventative measures as COVID-19 cases still linger, according to local medical officials.
Last October, Colquitt County began to see a rise in cases of the three viral illnesses – COVID-19, influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial viral infections (RSV). The increases affected the entire state leading Georgia into a “tridemic,” which is when all three ailments combine to stress hospitals and medical centers.
The CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – recently reported Colquitt County’s COVID-19 community-level status as “high.” The center advises residents to wear a high-quality mask or respirator and consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed if you are at high risk of getting very sick.
“We started seeing a rise in cases in the first week of December. The good news is that in the last week, numbers have started to come down. It is important to note that at-home test results are not reported to Public Health and therefore are not included in our counts,” Dr. Charles Ruis, the director of the Southwest Health District, said by email Tuesday.
“Hospitalizations in our district, including in Colquitt County, are beginning to go down. There has been about a 20% decrease in hospitalizations in the last week across the Southwest Health District.”
The Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 Status Report showed 85 total confirmed cases within the last two weeks as of Wednesday, Jan. 11. Statewide, Georgia has incurred 2,315,404 total confirmed cases and 34,472 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 since early 2020.
Factors contributing to recent surges, Ruis said, include the winter and cool weather causing people to spend more time indoors and the increase in gatherings around the holidays.
He also stated that the coronavirus variant XBB 1.5 is among those factors.
“The present variants appear to cause less serious illness and death than some of the previous variants,” Ruis said. “Our vaccines are more effective against older variants.”
Colquitt Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Michael D. Brown confirmed this possibility.
“The most recent COVID-19 variant, described as omicron XBB 1.5, is very contagious and our current available vaccinations do appear to be less effective in avoiding infection. For these reasons, our community has seen an increase in COVID cases over the last few weeks with approximately 6-7 new cases per day,” Brown said by email Wednesday.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not have data to suggest these recent COVID-19 subvariants result in any worsening illness.
“The vast majority of patients with COVID-19 infections have had far less severity of illness compared to the horrid COVID-19 waves we all experienced during 2020 and 2021. We currently have only a few patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at Colquitt Regional Medical Center,” Brown explained.
He mentioned that variants are tested by random sampling per the CDC. Individual hospitals, like Colquitt Regional, test for COVID but not for the subvariants. Nationally, XBB 1.5 is the predominant variant.
The Southwest Health District advises Moultrians to stay informed.
“You can call public health or visit the CDC site to see your county’s COVID-19 transmission level,” the district said. “Consider your susceptibility to illness regarding your age and state of your health so that you can make informed decisions about vaccinating, wearing masks in public, and social distancing.”
Colquitt Regional supports the CDC guidelines for remaining up to date with vaccinations as well as recommendations for isolating yourself with any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 infection.
Brown recommends the use of masks in populated areas, particularly with patients of advanced age and medical conditions.
Colquitt County is still experiencing “scattered seasonal influenza” but with the number of cases similar to most years, according to Brown.
Free at-home COVID-19 tests are still available from the federal government at your local health department or pharmacies through most insurance plans. COVID-19 vaccines are available at the Colquitt County Health Department Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Call (229) 589-8464 to schedule an appointment or get more information.
The Georgia Department of Public Health updates its COVID-19 Status Report weekly on Wednesdays.
To find more information about COVID-19 please visit

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